The week@work – Tonys, LinkedIn, Microsoft, ‘Brexit’, Orlando, and how to make a good teacher

This week@work the amazing Broadway production of Hamilton took home eleven Tony awards, Microsoft absorbed LinkedIn, young workers in Great Britain contemplated life after ‘Brexit’, journalist Anderson Cooper reported from Orlando, and we learned teaching can be taught.

Rolling Stone Magazine reporters Amy Plitt and Phoebe Reilly tallied the ’20 Best, Worst and WTF Moments at 2016 Tony Awards’.

“On a night that was marked by tragedy — and occurring mere hours after news broke of the deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Florida — the Tonys provided a much-needed bit of levity. The performers and honorees didn’t shy away from speaking about the shocking events of the day, but the overall mood was one of celebration. Part of the credit goes to the master of ceremonies James Corden, best known as the goofy host CBS’s Late Late Show, yet still a dorky theater kid at heart; his charming, cheerful persona brought an upbeat mood to the proceedings. And the Hamilton effect — and the fact that it was just a strong year for Broadway in general, with plenty of wonderful productions to celebrate — surely had something to do with it as well.”

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One of the best moments was James Cordon’s resume review of Tony nominated actors and their appearances on Law and Order.

“If you’ve ever thumbed through a Playbill wondering “Where have I seen that actor before?!?,” the answer is usually: Law & Order. Corden made very rewarding use of this New York actor résumé mainstay last night when he called on Claire Danes for her memorable portrayal of … L&O’s Tracy Brandt. The joke only got better as Corden showed footage of Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr. (who were in the same episode!) and poor Danny Burstein — the Fiddler on the Roof star played six different roles on the series, and each time Corden flashed the photo of another character, the audience (and Burstein) laughed harder. Apparently, there is absolutely no continuity on Law & Order.”

And now you know.

The breaking business story on Monday was news of the Microsoft/LinkedIn acquisition. The New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann examined ‘LinkedIn’s Complicated Bet on the Future of Work’.

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“LinkedIn, the business-oriented social-networking company that Microsoft acquired, this week, for $26.2 billion, was founded on two premises. The first was that, even in the winner-take-all world of Internet businesses, there would still be room for a niche company (meaning, in this case, only four hundred million registered users, and a hundred million users per month). The second was that what it means to work in a business is now profoundly different from what it was in the Organization Man era. White-collar employees are highly unlikely to spend a lifetime with a single employer, and more and more are not employees at all in the traditional sense. They self-manage their careers, in part by maintaining online personal networks, rather than have them managed by a corporate human-relations department.”

Now LinkedIn will function as part of a Fortune 50 corporate structure and employees will move from an entrepreneurial culture/ stock option pay structure to an “alternative universe, where, by tech-company standards, employees stay an unusually long time—the average tenure at Microsoft is five years, versus two years at Google, according to data from the consulting firm PayScale—and are unlikely to get rich from their stock options zooming up in value, as was the case for Microsoft employees back in the twentieth century. They are going to be their world’s equivalent of corporate lifers, with generous salaries and benefits and some measure of job security, while working to promote the continued growth of a very different kind of work arrangement elsewhere in the economy.

The technology world seems to be creating a small number of extremely successful people, a larger number of well-treated corporate employees, and an even larger number of people who wish they could be employees.”

And then there are the rest of us who now face the prospect of LinkedIn ads invading our quiet space as we commit great thoughts to Word and fill in Excel spreadsheets.

Randall Stross shared his opinion, ‘Why LinkedIn Will Make You Hate Microsoft Word’.

“My version of Word, a relatively recent one, is not that different from the original, born in software’s Pleistocene epoch. It isn’t networked to my friends, family and professional contacts, and that’s the point. Writing on Word may be the only time I spend on my computer in which I can keep the endless distractions in the networked world out of sight.

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, an associate professor of English at the University of Maryland and author of “Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing,” said the move reflected a failure to understand what writers need. “Most of the most innovative writing tools now on the market position themselves precisely as distraction-free platforms,” he said.

What Mr. Nadella fails to see is how extending LinkedIn’s “social fabric” to Word will kill the magic, not speed it up.”

On Thursday, voters in Great Britain will choose to leave or remain in the European Union. Kimiko De Freitas-Tamura reported ‘Brexit’ Vote Worries European Up-and-Comers Lured to Britain’.

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“For years, Britain’s relatively vibrant economy has attracted a steady flow of young people fleeing a lack of opportunity in their home countries on the Continent. London in particular is full of young Europeans, who have helped give the city its dynamic, global feel. From entrepreneurs, bankers and fashion designers to artists, waiters and students, all are free to resettle in Britain and make their futures here without so much as a visa.

No one knows for sure what would happen to them if Britain voted to leave the European Union — their immigration status would have to be worked out in the negotiations that would follow — but the debate itself has left some of the young people feeling fearful, frustrated and even angry.

Journalist Anderson Cooper covered the mass shootings in Orlando this week, demonstrating empathy for the victims and tenacity in interviews with politicians. Michael M. Grynbaum profiled the CNN anchor for The New York Times.

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“Anderson Cooper was reading the names of victims of the Orlando massacre on CNN this week when, uncharacteristically, his voice wavered and he drew up short. For moments, viewers around the country heard only silence, and then the sounds of the anchor struggling to compose himself.

As the news industry descended on Florida this week in the aftermath of a mass shooting in a gay nightclub, Mr. Cooper’s raw, activist-style coverage has stood out. He has held a prime-time vigil of sorts, reciting a list of the dead; refused to name the gunman, saying he wanted to focus on victims; and, in a widely viewed exchange, grilled Florida’s attorney general for defending a state ban on same-sex marriage.”

It was a very tough week@work. Colleagues celebrating their day off late Saturday into Sunday morning were viciously murdered in a gay nightclub in Orlando, and on Thursday, Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered as she went to work to meet with her constituents in West Yorkshire.

The last story, from The Economist, ‘How to Make a Good Teacher’.

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“Big changes are needed in schools, too, to ensure that teachers improve throughout their careers. Instructors in the best ones hone their craft through observation and coaching. They accept critical feedback—which their unions should not resist, but welcome as only proper for people doing such an important job. The best head teachers hold novices’ hands by, say, giving them high-quality lesson plans and arranging for more experienced teachers to cover for them when they need time for further study and practice.

Money is less important than you might think. Teachers in top-of-the-class Finland, for example, earn about the OECD average. But ensuring that the best stay in the classroom will probably, in most places, mean paying more. People who thrive in front of pupils should not have to become managers to earn a pay rise. And more flexibility on salaries would make it easier to attract the best teachers to the worst schools.

Improving the quality of the average teacher would raise the profession’s prestige, setting up a virtuous cycle in which more talented graduates clamoured to join it. But the biggest gains will come from preparing new teachers better, and upgrading the ones already in classrooms.”

Here’s what I think. Improving the quality of teachers will improve the quality of content taught. It will ensure a ‘safe space’ to openly discuss the issues facing our neighborhoods, counties, countries and continents. Good teachers remove the blinders of hate and discrimination. A courageous teacher at the front of the classroom cautions the young against the errors of the past, and is the best antidote to history repeating itself.

A good teacher reminds us that we are all teachers.

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We need a ‘sense of urgency’

Has a ‘moment of silence’ replaced a ‘sense of urgency’? In a time when we’ve run out of words, maybe we can find a path to action in the advice of a leadership guru.

I was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania this past weekend, at a retreat with a group of ‘millennials’ whose common bond is a college scholarship financed by an amazing philanthropic couple.

Early Sunday morning, there was news of a shooting in Orlando. With few details, numb to the continuing violence in our country, we joined our small group discussions, formulating solutions to the most challenging problems for the next president. We did not discuss gun safety.

As I drove home Sunday afternoon, through the farmland and burgeoning developments that dot the Pennsylvania landscape, I listened to the story emerging from Florida, in the unsteady voices of seasoned journalists who were reporting one more time from a scene of unimaginable violence.

Early Sunday morning another group of millennials, whose common bond was their identity as LBGT, celebrated life in a club, ‘Pulse’, in Orlando. Many did not return home through the central Florida landscape of Universal and Disney.

I have watched too many news reports over the past 48 hours. I finally turned away after watching Anderson Cooper of CNN deliver a heartbreaking narrative of those who lost their lives.

Enough.

We should be safe @school, @work, @home and @play.

I want our leaders to pause for a moment of silent remembrance, but I also want them to be leaders. I want them to represent their special interests, their constituents.

And I want millennials to assume ownership, set the agenda, and take action; before more members of the most promising generation are lost.

We need a sense of urgency. Professor of Leadership Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, John Kotter‘s 2008 advice to business leaders has equal resonance with our challenge today, “create a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change. Why focus on urgency? Without it, any change effort is doomed by insidious nature of complacency in all its forms and guises.” Step One – “overcome the fear and anger that can suppress urgency.”

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The week@work – agents of change, NY values and imagining a windfall

The week@work was dominated by stories of the small group of workers in entertainment, sports and politics. It was also the week that everyone had the opportunity to imagine entry into the world of celebrity via the purchase of a single $2 lottery ticket.

On Sunday evening the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out their annual Golden Globes, with the surprise winner being Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal for his role as conductor of the fictional ‘New York Symphony’ in Amazon’s Golden Globe winning ‘Mozart in the Jungle’. “I want to dedicate this to music, to all the people that find the music and common ground for communication, for justice for happiness.”

As Huell Howser might say, “This is amazing!”, that a series about classical musicians led by a talented Mexican actor, wins an award in a year of political polarization and classical music’s declining prominence in our culture.

On Thursday, the actor who played Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, Alan Rickman died. “With the last film it was very cathartic because you were finally able to see who he was,” Mr. Rickman said “It was strange, in a way, to play stuff that was so emotional. A lot of the time you’re working in two dimensions, not three.”

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Agents of change in theater, music, and the workplace challenge our thinking. On Monday we learned of the death of another transformational icon, David Bowie.

“In his dazzling artistry, daring style, unabashed intelligence, intensity of emotion, cultivation of magic, mystery and imagination, Bowie was a figure who bridged high and low culture, reverberating on so many different levels.”

On Monday morning, NPR replayed his 2002 interview with ‘Fresh Air’ host Terry Gross.

“I’m not actually a very keen performer. I like putting shows together. I like putting events together. In fact, everything I do is about the conceptualizing and realization of a piece of work, whether it’s the recording or the performance side. And kind of when I put the thing together, I don’t mind doing it for a few weeks, but then, quite frankly, I get incredibly, incredibly bored because I don’t see myself so much as a – I mean, I don’t live for the stage. I don’t live for an audience.”

David Bowie event planner? When we think of careers, we make assumptions about success, only to realize that each of us holds a unique definition which sculpts our approach to a calling.

“People often forgot, but up until his death, on Sunday at age 69, Mr. Bowie was a New Yorker

And though Mr. Bowie was enormously wealthy, he wasn’t one of those rich guys who kept an apartment in the city, along with a portfolio of global real estate holdings, and flew in. Aside from a mountain retreat in Ulster County, N.Y., his Manhattan apartment was his only home.

You may not have considered all this because Mr. Bowie was an apparition in the city, rarely glimpsed. You heard it mentioned that he lived here. Somewhere downtown, someone thought. But seeing him out? Good luck.”

Which brings us to the political discourse on ‘New York values’ and its relevance to job search. Relocation is a major consideration for many seeking career advancement. Understanding the character of the community you join outside of your workplace is equally, if not more important to understanding the values of your workplace community.

How many folks have decided to take a job in New York or LA only to later realize a major disconnect? This is not a value judgement, just a realization that we all need to find a place where we can be successful. Unfortunately, the job perks sometimes outweigh the geographical/cultural component in the decision making mix and it’s only when we are fully committed to our workplace that we begin to realize our success is being eroded by deficiencies in our neighborhood.

On to the world of sports. On Monday evening, two college football teams competed in the College Football National Championship game in Arizona. The University of Alabama’s team won by a score of 45-40 over Clemson. A few days later at the NCAA’s annual meeting, “NCAA president Mark Emmert praised student-athlete activism during his annual speech Thursday at the NCAA convention.”

During his 20-minute address at the NCAA’s opening business session, Emmert urged schools to continue to emphasize academics, fairness and the health and well-being of student-athletes.”

And yet, actions speak louder than words. Inside Higher Education reported“While the time demands on college athletes ­became the central focus of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual meeting here this week, several proposals to deal with the issue were seemingly tabled the day before the NCAA’s five wealthiest conferences were scheduled to vote on them.”

Here’s the thing. With the exception of college coaches, everyone is in agreement that the ‘student’ in the ‘student-athlete’ equation takes priority. ‘Official’ time demands don’t begin to reflect the ‘unofficial’ time requirements of competing in Division I sports. And with only a select few moving on to compete in their sport as professionals, these students need the flexibility to explore career opportunities and participate in internships.

“Roderick McDavis, president of Ohio University, said it would be a mistake for colleges to wait for NCAA policy changes to prompt that shift. “Policies don’t change behavior,” he said. “People change behavior. We can hope that the NCAA catches up with us all one day, but what I know I can control is I can go home tomorrow and make a difference on my campus.”

And then there were the omnipresent billboards advertising the Powerball Jackpot at $999 million. Except the amount had grown to over $1.5 billion, which gave us all an opportunity to contemplate what we would do with that amount of money.

On a CNN broadcast the night before the drawing, international anchor Richard Quest asked anchor Anderson Cooper what he would do with the winnings if he had the lucky set of numbers. (You may know that Mr. Cooper is a Vanderbilt by ancestry.) His response, “I would buy a watch.” And he would be back at work the next day.

Here are a few additional articles that you may have missed from the past week.

‘Why I Always Wanted to Be a Secretary’ by Bryn Greenwood – Does your work define you? What if your dream job is central to an organization, but society’s definition is demeaning?

‘At Work And Feeling All Alone’ by Phyllis Korkki – In the world of telecommuting, new research indicates those left behind in the office have ended up feeling lonely and disconnected.

‘60% of Women in Silicon Valley Have Been Sexually Harassed’ by Lydia Dishman – Results of a survey of 200 women demonstrates a serious level of dysfunction in the tech giants’ workplace.

‘Yahoo’s Brain Drain Shows a Loss of Faith Inside the Company’ by Vindu Goel – “More than a third of the company’s work force has left in the last year, say people familiar with the data. Worried about the brain drain, Ms. Mayer has been approving hefty retention packages — in some cases, millions of dollars — to persuade people to reject job offers from other companies. But those bonuses have had the side effect of creating resentment among other Yahoo employees who have stayed loyal and not sought jobs elsewhere.”